No. 214
Mr. Bassett to Mr. Fish.

No. 206.]

Sir: Asking reference to my dispatches numbered 196 and 197, of the 26th ultimo, and to the one numbered 199, of the 7th instant, all referring to the alleged violation of the British vice-consulate at Puerto [Page 464] Plata by the authorities of San Domingo, I have the honor to state that Her Britannic Majesty’s war-steamer Niobe, commanded by Sir Lambton Lorraine, which left this harbor for Puerto Plata and San Domingo City on the 16th ultimo, as reported in my No. 196, returned here on the 14th instant, and brought with her official information of the complete settlement of all difficulties growing out of the occurrences at Puerto Plata.

Her Britannic Majesty’s representatives claimed that the proceedings of the Dominican authorities at Puerto Plata in taking three refugees from the British vice-consular dwelling there by force constituted a deliberate insult to the British flag. The reparation demanded in positive terms through Sir Lambton Lorraine, acting on instructions from my colleague, Mr. St. John, were (1) that the persons taken by force from the British vice-consular dwelling, which was considered the British vice-consulate, should be delivered up; (2) that the officers of the government of San Domingo who aided in the proceedings complained of should be made sensible of the displeasure of their government for their part in these proceedings; (3) that the British flag should be hoisted over the British vice-consulate at Puerto Plata by an officer not below the grade of captain in the service of the government of San Domingo in presence of all the chief officials of Puerto Plata, and saluted in that presence by twenty-one guns, or by three discharges of musketry.

The government officials at San Domingo City endeavored, under one statement after another, to evade or delay a direct response to the demands made. They claimed that the place from which the refugees were taken was not the British vice-consulate, and then that the affair had been referred diplomatically to Her Majesty’s government at London. But Sir Lambton Lorraine, under instructions from my colleague, Mr. St. John, repeated his demands in more decided and peremptory terms, and thereupon the Dominican government stated that, yielding to the presence of superior force, it would accede to those demands. On the 7th instant the refugees were delivered up and placed on board the Niobe, and the dispatch censuring the Dominican officials at Puerto Plata was forwarded by President Baez’s cabinet, and on the 8th instant the British flag was, in the manner insisted upon, hoisted over the British vice-consulate at Puerto Plata, and saluted by the firing of twenty-one guns.

It is worthy of remark that, in the correspondence on the subject between Sir Lambton Lorraine and the authorities of San Domingo, which is somewhat voluminous, and of a portion of which I have had a very hasty reading, both parties recognize in one way or another the right of asylum to political refugees in the consular offices of Her Britannic Majesty in San Domingo.

I have, &c.,


P. S.—While dining on board the Niobe this afternoon with several of my colleagues, I learned that the three Dominican refugees, who were taken from the premises of the British vice-consul at Puerto Plata, were then on board the Niobe, and purpose landing here. My colleague, Mr. St. John, while we were on board, handed Sir Lambton a dispatch formally congratulating the latter on the energetic and faithful manner in which he had carried out his instructions. He also at table verbally emphasized those congratulations in quite an outspoken manner.

E. D. B.